Cablegate: Possible Terrorist Sighting in Ho Chi Minh City -

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.







E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: REFTEL (A) and (B) reported that on the
evening of June 1, two visiting AMCITS observed an
individual in a Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) night club who they
believed to be Fahid Mohammed Ally MSALAM (SUBJECT 1).
SUBJECT 1 is listed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist Web
site. Despite RSO Hanoi's efforts at the national level,
the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in HCMC only agreed to
meet with RSO HCMC at 6 pm on June 4. However, HCMC DHS/OIC
has been in touch with MPS and been advised that they have
the necessary information and are investigating. (Post
Note: MPS in HCMC is notoriously reluctant/unable to meet
with RSO HCMC on an urgent basis because they must get
permission from Hanoi. End Note) RSO HCMC was able meet
with elements of Military Region 7 (MR7) of the Ministry of
Defense (MOD) and was provided additional information. At
this point, ConGen HCMC believes appropriate - if not
integrated - assistance is being rendered by security
agencies in HCMC. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On June 2, RSO Hanoi met with Major Pham Dinh
Trieu, Deputy Chief of the Section of Terrorism Analysis and
Syntheses, Counterterrorism Department, MPS. RSO provided
Maj. Trieu with the details listed in REFTELS and provided
copies of the wanted poster from the FBI website. RSO
requested that MPS Hanoi coordinate with MPS HCMC to ensure
that an active and aggressive investigation was undertaken.
RSO further requested the following from MPS:

- Notify RSOs Hanoi and HCMC if anyone matching SUBJECT 1's
description is located, identified or detained;

- Ensure that fingerprints are taken of anyone detained that
matches SUBJECT 1's description;

- Allow Embassy or ConGen personnel to participate in any
interviews of SUBJECT 1.

Maj. Trieu indicated that he would contact his counterpart
in HCMC immediately upon the conclusion of the meeting. He
was noncommittal regarding the rest of RSO Hanoi's requests.

3. (SBU) On June 3, RSO HCMC attempted to schedule a
meeting with MPS HCMC in order to discuss this sighting. He
was advised that they (MPS) did not have time to meet. RSO
HCMC was finally given an appointment with MPS at 6 pm on
June 4. However, DHS/OIC Rick Sell was able to contact his
MPS contacts and was informed as indicated in REFTELS,
paragraph 7.

4. (SBU) On June 3, RSO HCMC met with Mr. Thanh (rank UNK)
of the Security/Investigations section of Military Region 7
(MR7) based in HCMC. (Post Note: MR7 is charged with the
mission of counterterrorism and border security in southern
Vietnam.) Mr. Thanh indicated that he was the assistant to
a Lt. Col. Phuong. Also joining the meeting was another Mr.
Thanh and a Mr. Cuong (rank UNK).

4A. (SBU) The first Mr. Thanh was provided with a copy of
the FBI wanted poster for SUBJECT 1 and a summary of the
statements by the AMCIT witnesses. Mr. Thanh stated that he
recognized the photograph of SUBJECT 1. He indicated that
he had seen SUBJECT 1 in March 2004, in a market outside
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that caters to foreigners and Middle
Easterners (NFI). He stated that he was in Cambodia on
official business at the time. Mr. Cuong and the second Mr.
Thanh also stated that they recognized SUBJECT 1 as somebody
they had seen in Cambodia.

4B. (SBU) RSO HCMC also provided Mr. Thanh with a copy of
the FBI webpage that contains thumbnail photos of the entire
most wanted terrorist. The second Mr. Thanh identified two
additional individuals whom he said he has seen in HCMC.
They are Saif AL-ADEL (SUBJECT 2) and Ahmed Khalfan GHAILANI
(SUBJECT 3). Mr. Thanh stated that he had seen SUBJECT 2 on
two occasions in the Carmen Coffee Shop located on Ly Tu
Truong Street in HCMC. Mr. Cuong agreed. (Post Note: This
coffee shop/nightclub is a popular entertainment spot for
Vietnamese and foreigners alike - including ConGen
personnel. End note.) Mr. Thanh could not definitively say
when he saw SUBJECT 2 at the above location, only that it
had been recently. Regarding SUBJECT 3, Mr. Thanh could not
recall where he had seen him, only that it had been recently
and in Vietnam. Finally, Mr. Thanh indicated to RSO HCMC
that elements of MR7 would be actively searching for the
aforementioned SUBJECTS.

4C. (SBU) RSO Hanoi met again with MPS Counterterrorism
Department to express concern that RSO HCMC had been unable
to meet with the MPS in HCMC. RSO Hanoi was provided with
two contact names and numbers for RSO HCMC to call to set up
an appointment.

4D. (SBU) RSO HCMC Comment: During the meeting with MR7
personnel, RSO HCMC was apprised of the professional rivalry
between the MR7 and the MPS in HCMC. RSO HCMC was advised
that the HCMC Police (who belong to MPS) consider the
security situation under control in HCMC and very safe,
whereas the MR7 believes there are vulnerabilities, and does
not consider the situation completely safe.

5. (SBU) RSO/Embassy comment: We believe that MPS in
Hanoi and HCMC are following up on the information both
posts have provided them and are encouraged that MOD's MR7
is evaluating the information. As this cable is being
drafted, RSO HCMC is heading out to a 6 pm meeting with MPS.
At this point, neither the GVN nor we have been able to
confirm the sighting(s) of these individuals. We will
continue to urge the GVN to investigate further and increase
cooperation, and to permit MPS in HCMC to meet with the
ConGen. We will also continue to tap all resources
available to us.

6. (SBU) If it is necessary to contact ConGen HCMC
urgently, please use NIACT IMMEDIATE precedence or send an
email and alert officers by phone, since the cable lines are
down and ConGen cannot retrieve cable traffic unless the IPO
brings up the satellite connection. Please note that ConGen
HCMC is an Unclassified post.


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